Comeuppance for package thief / TUE 2-11-20 / Ballet position on tiptoe / Actress Merrill of "BUtterfield 8"

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Constructor: Neil Padrick Wilson and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium (in the mid/high 3's)

THEME: FLYING / COLORS (33A: With 35-Across, complete success ... or a hint to 18-, 23-, 46- and 51-Across) — things that feature literal FLYING / COLORS:

Theme answers:
  • LASER SHOW (18A: Lighting display at many a rock concert)
  • RAINBOW FLAG (23A: Symbol of pride)
  • GLITTER BOMB (46A: Comeuppance for a package thief)
  • PAINTBALL (51A: Sport that can leave you with welts)
Word of the Day: GLITTER BOMB (46A) —
Glitter bombing is an act of protest in which activists throw glitter on people at public events. Glitter bombers have frequently been motivated by, though not limited to, their targets' rape apologism or opposition to same-sex marriage.
Some legal officials argue glitter bombing is technically assault and battery. It is possible for glitter to enter the eyes or nose and cause damage to the cornea or other soft tissues potentially irritating them or leading to infection, depending on the size of the glitter. Whether a prosecutor would pursue the charges depends on a number of factors. (wikipedia)
• • •

[Comeuppance for a package thief]???? Please see the Word of the Day definition, above, to understand why this was the clue I struggled with the most today. I know glitter bombing only as a form of political protest. Are there really people who devote time to turning the foiling of porch pirates into a lavish art project? What insanely narrow context is this and why not just go with the much more common meaning of this word, especially since it's a modern / new term. Does the package literally explode in their face... with glitter? That still sounds dangerous. Bizarre. Seriously, just google [define glitter bomb] and every page will tell you it's a form of political protest. Too bad they bricked this clue so badly—the theme is actually very inventive. [update: I'm told this is some genre of youtube prank video ... ok] The fill in this puzzle, however, is all over the place. The long Downs give the grid much needed pizzazz, though the most original long Down, IT'S A BIG IF, feels out of tune (5D: "Things may well not happen the way you suppose")—you'd say THAT'S A BIG IF in response to someone else's "if." That may seem a small distinction, but not to my ear. I like what that answer was trying to do, though. Did not like the garbage dump of fill in the NW (ADWARE LEERAT singular ARREAR), but once you get out of there, things even out, and the objectionable stuff is less dense. Ultimately, this one is wobbly, but it holds up.

I've been in universities, and English departments specifically, for my whole adult life, and I can count the number of times I've heard the term "Lit CRIT" to describe a "class" (or, really, anything) on no hands. OK, maybe one, but honestly, it's not a thing. I promise you. It keeps showing up in crosswords because of inertia (this is suuuuuuuuuuch a common phenomenon), but it's good to reality-check your clues and answers every decade or so, and every time I see this clue on CRIT, I wince. I also wince because CRIT is just bad fill. So, double wince. There's a rapper called Big K.R.I.T. Maybe try him.

Jarring also to be told that I'LL BET is a thing when two-to-three hundred times a year (roughly) I'm asked to believe that I BET is a thing. What's next, I WILL BET! I SHALL BET! BET SHALL I! I WILL PUT A NOT INSIGNIFICANT WAGER ON THIS EVENT! Another word no one uses ever: OATEN (57A: Like granola, largely). We all tacitly agree to let it go 'cause we've seen it before and are 99% sure it's in a dictionary somewhere, and maybe we're just secretly glad it's not OATY (yes, OATY happens). But OATEN is a THUD for me. Every time. POPO is real enough slang, but somehow in the "mouth" of the puzzle it always feels ... well, like this:

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Lewis 6:08 AM  

    What a clever theme, with lively and, indeed, colorful answers! Looking at or hearing the phrase "flying colors", then thinking to come up with varied examples, and actually succeeding, that's the art of theme creation, resulting in something new, never seen before. Bravo!

    Two more things I liked:
    * That THUD at the bottom to balance off all that flying, satisfying my Libra sensitivities.
    * The puzzle's flying echos -- SKEET, GNAT, WING, and AVIS (Latin for "bird").

    Definitely got my day off the ground. Thank you, gentlemen!

    Kid Phoneme 6:12 AM  

    Here's Glitter bomb's missing link. . Fun fill, bad cluing.

    Anonymous 6:30 AM  

    A debit is NOT a minus item in accounting - this definition is flat out incorrect. Rotten way to start a puzzle.

    Hungry Mother 6:50 AM  

    Super fast here. Just slowed by old fat fingers.

    OffTheGrid 7:02 AM  

    In SE, shout outs to tennis and a movie.


    CanaDON 7:03 AM  

    Was a bit concerned POPO were PIGS. Never heard of POPO.

    Eric 7:03 AM  

    Here’s a link to the video for 46A

    GILL I. 7:03 AM  

    Fun to see ILL BET crossing I RAISE and the side by side IM FREE/ABSENT.
    Nice Tuesday. I'm not sure, though, that I'd lump IBERIA with the Basques. From their perspective, they aren't even Spanish. They have their own language and all that - even their food is different from the rest of Spain. My mom lived in a village outside of Bilbao called Algorta and my sister and I would visit and do nothing but eat. Man, did they hate Franco.
    I liked this puzzle. GLITTER BOMB was a bit of a head scratcher. I suppose if you're a porch thief and you can't wait to open what Amazon just delivered to the poor unsuspecting neighbor, then you'd deserve the BOMB going off in your face and in the car. Everyone has spy cameras now and can nab you lickety split.
    I do have to ask...why would you play PAINT BALL if it leaves you with welts? And wasn't POPO a clown?

    kitshef 7:14 AM  

    If I may engage in some Puz CRIT:

    CRIT and POPO should be avoided if at all possible. There is an easy to get rid of CRIT – CHIT/CAT/CHATS. So … why not do it? Or CHIT/TAT/THATS.

    Puzzzzzle was way beyond Monday-easy. Admirable theme density, though.

    RavTom 7:16 AM  

    @Rex: This may all be generational. As a boomer, I heard Lit CRIT often in college. Also, I say I’LLBET at least as often as I say “ I bet.” On the other hand, I did have to Google to learn what ADWARE is.

    WhatDoing 7:34 AM  

    Lit crit may not be a thing to professors but it’s certainly a thing to students. I promise you.

    relicofthe60s 7:35 AM  

    So you’d rather have some obscure rapper than the easily inferable CRIT? Sheesh.

    Anonymous 7:39 AM  

    My 13-year-old and his friend just showed me the glitter bomb video on youtube Friday. It was so satisfying to easily fill in the answer and then tell him about it this morning!

    toddh 7:39 AM  

    I suggest that any constructor who neeeeeeds CRIT in the crossword to clue it as “rolling a 20 in DND” it’s called a CRIT short for critical hit, it’s very much a thing, and it’s less stuffy than a (made-up) college course name.

    QuasiMojo 7:54 AM  

    Not to POPO this puzzle too harshly but how is a laser beam "flying"? Would you say a beacon is flying? It's just light. And not to make too fine a point here but the ballet position is EN POINTE. Calling the drug-induced monster Mr. Hyde an "alter ego" is also a stretch, although being the respectable Dr. Jekyll was the perfect ALIBI.

    Thanks for the IF video, Rex. Am I wrong (@Z) or did you post the same video recently? I'd also have loved a snippet from the movie IF starting Malcolm McDowell.

    Suzie Q 8:00 AM  

    I got glitter bomb off of just the "tt". That was such a gimme. It is true that I enjoy funny compilation videos on YouTube. I did not know it was a practice at protests. Somehow learning about that from Rex does not surprise me.
    I liked this puzzle a lot more than Rex did. It must have been difficult to find the words to clue "It's a big if". I wanted "It's a bit iffy" but that wouldn't fit.
    Other than that it was smooth sailing with my colors flying.

    Irene 8:01 AM  

    Wow Rex. Have a hard night?
    This was an elegant puzzle, more interesting than the usual Tuesday. And LIT CRIT is definitely a Thing, usually said with a little smile.

    Zelda 8:10 AM  

    Now I think he’s just trolling Will Shortz. What a ridiculous critique of a fine puzzle.

    pabloinnh 8:16 AM  

    Had exactly the same reaction as @Quasi to a "flying" laser beam. Too bad, because the other ones were good and I liked the theme.

    BIDEN is here in NH, of course, and everyone will go somewhere else after today, and my phone will stop ringing, and in another four years it will start all over again.

    I'LLBET is OK but it needs a "just" in the middle. Oh, I'll just bet. I'd say that.

    Thanks for a nice enough Tuesdecito, guys. Time to go vote.

    J Dubs 8:26 AM  

    Hear hear! Came here to say exactly this.

    Brit Solves NYT 8:28 AM  

    Enjoyed it. Did feel it would have benefited from a few grid revisions to polish up some bits of fill.

    mathgent 8:33 AM  

    For those of us who are admirers of the sculpture by RODIN (21D), come to The Legion of Honor, a wonderful museum here in San Francisco. It has over seventy pieces by him, most of which are on constant display. The courtyard overlooking Ocean Beach has a superb bronze casting of The Thinker.

    A very pleasant Tuesday puzzle.

    J Dubs 8:35 AM  

    Only knew glitter bomb in this sense - didn't know it was a protest technique.

    And as mentioned above, debits in accounting are simply left side entries. In fact, a debit to your assets increases the value.

    SJ Austin 8:50 AM  

    Mark Rober's package thief glitter bomb traps have over 100 million view on YouTube. That's for two videos; the first one is over 78M on its own. Totally fair clue for a modern crossword, IMO. (By the way: he's a former NASA engineer who does really awesome engineering videos that appeal to kids and adults alike. Worth checking out his channel for sure.)

    Overall, I thought this was a great theme concept with fun, creative answers. Thumbs up from me!

    Joaquin 8:55 AM  

    The only time I ever think to use 20A (ARREAR) in the singular is when viewing a show like the Oscars last night. “I think that was Kim K. walking away because all I see is ARREAR.”

    Anonymous 9:02 AM  

    I know glitter bomb from the puzzle’s sense. There are a lot of funny videos out there.

    Paul Emil 9:04 AM  

    Not being a CPA I didn't know that a DEBIT is a plus, since it isn't a minus. So I put DEBIT as the answer. It seemed to fit with the down answers. Mt bad.

    Nancy 9:06 AM  

    I've always preferred chatty cluing to terse, laconic cluing, so I enjoyed this puzzle. I'm thinking of the clues for ALIBI, AGING, FOG, FRESH AIR, ABSENT, and JOHN MUIR. It'a not that the clues were especially hard, but many had real personality and sort of said: "Why not pull up a chair and we'll talk."

    The theme was cute and a bit unusual. Not just the fact that the colors were FLYING, but that each themer was composed of so many different COLORS. Nothing was just blue or red or yellow; instead they were RAINBOWs and LASERs and GLITTERs. (I wonder if there's any GREEN in a PAINTBALL.)

    Moral of the day: Don't go around stealing packages. You may be unpleasantly surprised by a GLITTER BOMB. Or not. IT'S A BIG IF.

    This was fun.

    Z 9:12 AM  

    My mildly arched eyebrow was for all the words that begin with A in the north, especially the singular ARREAR. The seven are, for the most part, just mildly esey, but jam all into one section and it really highlights that these words appear far more in crossworld than in the wild.

    The placement of IDIOTS caused me to picture one of those uncomfortable holiday gatherings where someone is regaling everyone with a wonderful tale of FLYING the RAINBOW FLAG and that one uncle is mumbling “IDIOTS.”

    Hand up for hearing Lit CRIT a lot back in my college days.

    @Joe Dipinto late yesterday - Agreed. And it is that very ear worminess that makes me dislike it so much. I imagine some stereotypical record exec type saying “this album needs a hit single, there’s no hit single here,” and Skateaway being the result.

    Z 9:17 AM  

    Forgot to ask, Who else thinks Joe BIDEN is the Jeb Bush of 2020? That is, the safe “electable” candidate who isn’t actually electable.

    RooMonster 9:24 AM  

    Hey All !
    FLYING COLORS, with various ways of COLORS FLYING is a pretty neat theme. Had _O_ORS, thinking it couldn't be COLORS, because I only had RAINBOW at the time. How does LASER SHOW be a COLOR? But as I went on, the ole brain latched onto what was happening.

    Fill wasn't too bad, plus we get 6 F's, so that's a big deal!

    Ok, a continuation of the Woes and Dumbassery of the RooMonster - (This is long, so feel free to avoid) -
    So... Like a Dumbass, I never downloaded Windows 10 when I was prompted to when it was free. In my defense, I don't remember being asked/prompted to, although I'm sure I was (probably several times), but with my mind a sieve the same as our @Nancy, I don't recall that. So I've been running Windows 7 until last Saturday, even though the pop-up window of "Support and protection for Windows 7 has ended as of January(something)" kept, well, popping up, I didn't bother to do anytiing about it. I'm going on a trip to PA this spring, so I was looking at flights, etc. and started getting weird e-mails that basically seemed like hackers were getting into all my stuff. So, I decided to take my computer to Office Depot to get Windows 10 and a Protection program.
    $350 dollars later, I have Windows 10 and Norton w/ Life Lock.
    Now, I've done this before, maybe 5-6 years ago, transferring files from one platform/computer to another, and lost a bunch of files. So... like a Dumbass, I (of course) forgot that, and had the computer redone before printing out several puzzles I had made. So guess what? Yep, I. Lost. All. Those. Puzzles. With at least 10 fully made with clues and all that I never printed out. Oof, Argh, Yipes, Damn it, et alii. Feel free to send your sympathies my way!
    Not that they'd get published, which is more than likely true, but it's the fact of them being lost in the ether because I'm a Dumbass that hurts. I had nowhere better to vent about this than here!

    I know, I know, first world problems, yada yada yada, but it still stings. Plus, (wait, there's more!) I did print out some puzzles, but not the answers. So now I have to go back, and solve my own puzzles to be able to print out the answers!

    If there's ever a contest to see "Who's Americas Number 1 Dumbass", I'd be sure to win. :-)


    albatross shell 9:26 AM  

    I liked the IRAISE ILLBET and IMFREE ABSENT action. The theme and reveal and FRESH AIR could be SEEN AS lively and new, but THUD a bit flat and stale to me.
    Although I would defend LASERSHOW: the colors fly across and around the stage ceiling and whatever.
    Or maybe it's something else in the puzzle. My late comment yesterday explains why I prefer that one. Better words that work together and are more suggestive. This one one isn't bad though.

    But so far the discussion is the same ole same ole. CRIT and DEBIT.

    Obama's #2 is a bit of a shitty pun.

    Yes PAINTBALL raises welts and people do it. For some sex does too. People do it. Pain can prove valor or courage to some or intensify pleasure for others. Adrenaline rush. People is strange and youse even stranger.

    Anonymous 9:30 AM  

    Crit is also a term used in bicycle racing. It's a shortened version of the word criterium. A criterium is a relatively short race consisting of multiple laps on a closed circuit course.

    Anonymoose 9:34 AM  

    I watched a LASERSHOW video. The colors were definitely flying.

    Non-accountants don't give a shit if DEBIT is less than accurate.

    OATEN made me groan and smile simultaneously.

    Who the hell is LEE RAT?

    Arrogant priests have ALTaR EGOS.

    Anonymous 9:35 AM  

    Re Same sex marriage and glitter bombs.
    Less than a decade ago, both Barak Obama and Joe Biden were very clear and public in their opposition to same sex marriage.

    Anonymous 9:37 AM  

    I had the two "T's" and inserted LETTER for the that would be some comeuppance.

    Anonymous 9:38 AM  

    Hand up for dumbassery.

    SouthsideJohnny 9:47 AM  

    Very sad to see another mistake in the cluing today so soon after the recent Burroughs fiasco. I’m not an account - I took one course in entry-level accounting years ago where I learned that Asset and Expense increases are DEBITs. The NYT staff of crossword editors is delving into the realm of self-parody - perhaps even solidifying their claim to the gold standard of bumbling incompetent editing.

    MTV veejays ? When was this puzzle constructed - during the Reagan administration ?

    It felt like a tough Monday for me - I knew the youtube GLITTER BOMB, so that helped a bit.

    We could do without OATEN and it’s cousin OATER for oh, say the next six months or so.

    albatross shell 9:49 AM  

    Joe is much home liked than Jeb, so in that sense no. In the sense Oh no, another Bush?
    Joe is like oh no, another Clinton.

    Forgot to mention. I say I bet, I'll bet, I'd bet,I'd make that bet, l'd take that bet depending on circumstances.

    Joe Dipinto 9:53 AM  

    Jeff Chen kinda gives away the source of the GLITTER BOMB entry at XWord Info – Mark Rober's videos, as @SJ Austin said.

    @Quasi – Rex posted Bread singing "Everything I Own" recently . Don't remember anyone posting "If", which btw has this lyric that always annoys me:

    If a man could be two places at one time, I'd be with you / Tomorrow and today...

    Hey Doofus Gates, that's being in one place at two different times.

    POINTE has "on" in the clue so I don't think it needs the "en" in the answer. ARREAR is always strange to see. All the online dictionaries say it's "usually used in the plural", and give not one example if it being used in the singular. Is a word actually a word if no one uses it, ever?

    I know Dina Merrill but don't remember her in "Butterfield 8", but then I don't remember much about that movie at all.

    Anyway. I didn't love this puzzle but it's okay.

    The year on this (the movie) is actually 1975.

    SouthsideJohnny 9:59 AM  

    Sorry, that is “OATEN and its cousin OATER” . . . which should both be given a six month time-out.

    Gio 10:02 AM  

    Many years ago I was a graduate student at that fine institute of higher learning that Rex works at now. My best friend was getting her Masters in Literary Criticism, so that came up a lot and we never said LIT CRIT. It wasn't a thing at that school 35 years ago (damn I'm old!) We know usage changes and there are geographical variations, so I'm not surprised some of you have heard it and not Rex.
    I also remember when I was a Freshman in college, coming home for a holiday and telling my High School drop out neighbors about my classes. I called one of them "poly sci." They went into fits of laughter for 5 minutes.
    Easy puzzle for me. I watched the glitter bomb link. Wow! Don't mess with that guy!

    Gio 10:08 AM  

    @anonymous For me the bicycle racing Crit is the most common i hear and use. I've raced in a few and my son does them so I go to a lot of them. That is one difficult sporting event. 100 riders within inches of each other going 30mph around tight corners. Crashes are brutal. I've witnessed many and it's horrible seeing skin lost to pavement and hearing bikes break and bones crack. But they love it. Crits are an American bike racing event;they are not common in Europe and the rest of the world.

    JC66 10:19 AM  

    @Joe D

    re: "Butterfield 8," you do remember Elizabeth Taylor, right?

    Hopeless 10:22 AM  

    I was hoping for "Superman's cape" (clue: don't walk on it) to be a theme answer. And I was hoping for Rex (or Joe D) to post a video of The Who doing "I'm Free."

    Anonymous 10:26 AM  

    Come to Philly. The Rodin museum here is home to the largest collection of his works outside France. And Philly, unlike the city by the bay, isn't drowning in human feces.

    Duncan 10:29 AM  

    I love this take way more than the negativity flung at us by Rex. It was indeed a fun puzzle overall.

    John V 10:30 AM  

    Yes this is just wrong. A debit increases a debit account, such as an assert. Depends on the context. But wrong here

    jberg 10:31 AM  

    Pretty good theme, I thought. I never saw and wasn't aware of those GLITTER BOMB videos, so I assumed it was the equivalent of handing a bank robber a package of bills with a red dye bomb inside, set to go off 10 minutes later. That was good enough for me.

    @Gill, isn't IBERIA just the name for the peninsula as a geographic feature, inhabited by various ethnic groups which change over the centuries? That's how I took it, at least.

    Anyhow, remember the Old OATEN Bucket that hung in the well?

    Nancy 10:34 AM  

    @Roo (9:24) -- You do have my sympathy -- losing all that work, work that obviously took a great deal of time and effort, is really awful. But do you remember my saying recently that a mental note isn't worth the paper it's printed on? I'd apply the same reasoning to cyberspace: Anything that isn't backed up in the non-cyber world also isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

    People are always talking about having various "files" and whatnot in different places on their computer. But, if it's all on the computer, wherever it's located, it's still virtual. I don't trust anything virtual. Computers go down. Websites go down. I have a paper copy of everything important. Including the email addresses of everyone in Rexworld whose email address I know. Including all the clues I've written for various puzzles -- until such time as they are either published or rejected. That's what I suggest in the future for you, @Roo -- never place all your faith in cyberspace.

    Whatsername 10:36 AM  

    I really liked this! On the easy side with wonderfully clever theme and revealer. ILLBET is definitely acceptable where I come from, but I concede it might be a local/regional variance of the general expression. Loved the clue for BIDEN but hated ARREAR which is probably a thing, but I cannot think of any way you could actually use the word in conversation. “I’m worried they’re going to turn off my lights because I have an ARREAR on my electric bill”?

    @Joaquin at 8:55, thanks for the hilarious and timely Oscar analogy, so true. Speaking of which, 34D made me think of the priceless scene in The Odd Couple when Oscar refers to Felix’s LINGUINE as spaghetti, then flings it against the kitchen wall and says “now it’s garbage.” Surprisingly, neither the movie nor any of the actors won an Academy award. Must’ve been some pretty stiff competition that year.

    Anonymous 10:40 AM  

    I am far from an accountant, but when I use my debit card and write the amount down in my checkbook, that’s definitely a minus.

    Crimson Devil 10:42 AM  

    Re Hopeless
    Should’t the clue for Superman’s cape (from Jim Croce) be “Don’t tug on it” ? instead of don’t “walk” on it, tho I’d think walk could be equally apt.

    Petri 10:49 AM  

    I very much enjoyed this one while solving, and when I finished in a nice time, I sat back and enjoyed it even more. The theme is cute and all the themers fit nicely. I got a chuckle out of ADWARE, and being a millenial, knew exactly what the porch pirate clue referred to, so appreciated that too. Very nice, and actually fun!

    JC66 10:50 AM  

    An old joke I first heard when taking Accounting 101 many years ago.

    The senior accountant, when coming into work each morning for over thirty years would sit down at his desk, unlock the lower left hand drawer, take out a piece of paper and carefully examine its contents. He'd then refold the piece of paper, place it back in the drawer and lock the drawer.

    The day after he retired, curious co-workers, who always wondered what was on the paper, jimmied open the drawer to see what the message on the piece of paper could be.

    Turned out, it was "DEBITs to the window, credits to the wall."


    re: "I'm Free," @Joe D did. See his 9:53 post.

    xyz 10:54 AM  

    AWFUL puzzle, plus LASERS don't fly

    single ARREAR, then - POPO and PIA in the same puzzle? good lord

    albatross shell 10:54 AM  

    @ME 949AM
    That should be much more liked than Jeb. Sorry.

    PapaLeroux 11:12 AM  

    We liked it. But, there was some strange stuff ...
    POPO for police. I’m 85 and I’ve never seen that.
    CRIT. Never seen that, either.
    We loved HUGELY and BIDEN.
    Fun puzzle.

    jae 11:12 AM  

    Easy-medium. Pretty smooth grid, colorful stuff that is for me, liked it.

    Thanks Rex for explaining what a GLITTER BOMB is both times.

    dadnoa 11:15 AM  

    We can just add debit to oaten, popo, and crit. Rex nailed it....bad fill :)

    RooMonster 11:22 AM  

    I'd always printed out puzs after I finished them, but recently I hadn't. Not sure if that is laziness, forgetfulness, or just straight up Dumbassery. I will heed your advice in the future. :-)

    RooMonster Wishes Phone And Computers Weren't A Neccesity Guy

    G. Weissman 11:26 AM  

    Lit CRIT may be “a Thing,” but it is not a college class. Hence, the point that that answer, repeatedly featured in crossword puzzles, is evidence of unthinking laziness. This puzzle did not thrill me. Lots of junky fill. It would be nice to expect and receive better.

    TJS 11:31 AM  

    Hey @Roo, atleast you are in good company. When a relatively young Hemingway was in Switzerland, he told his wife Hadley to bring all his unpublished writing with her when she came from Paris. She left them all on the train...

    (Not sure of all the details, but that's the gist of the story.By the way, by the time he finished a book, he had edited it and re-written it so many times, he could recite the entire book, word for word, from memory.)

    Joe Dipinto 11:31 AM  

    @JC66 – I think I only saw the movie once, and of course I remember Liz, but not much else. That was the movie for which she won an Oscar because she had a tracheotomy (in real life). I see from Wikipedia that Dina Merrill played the wife of the Laurence Harvey character. I believe it, I just don't remember it.

    Tom R 11:39 AM  

    Glitter bomb a thief: Open your package and take what you ordered out, reload it with a glitter bomb with some kind of trigger, then seal it back up and leave it on the porch. Like the blue ink in packages of money as a surprise for bank robbers. Of course, its kind of elaborate (see clip posted above and well out of the reach of the average person, but satisfying to think about.

    Masked and Anonymous 11:52 AM  

    That mid-puzgrid FLYING COLORS revealer really forced the grid to open up, almost themeless-layout-like. Only 74 words. fave words: JOHNMUIR. FRESHAIR.
    Also enjoyed the A-line subtheme:
    * ALIBI-AVIS-AJAR at line #1.
    * AGING-ARIES at line #7.

    Learned somethin new, with GLITTERBOMB. Took a few extra precious nanoseconds, to coax it out of hidin, during the solvequest.

    Seemed about the right amount of feistiness, for a TuesPuz. Had no prob with CRIT. I observed a few dedicated LIT CRITTERS at college, especially on weekends, but they didn't tend to have much in the way of class. Some would even get CRITTERBOMBed, but lacked the sparkly parts.

    staff weeject pick: VPS. Plural abreve meat, with a x-ref clue.

    Thanx for gangin up on us, NPW & JC. Too bad U couldnta fit TRUMPHAIRDO in, as a themer, tho.

    Masked & Anonymo4Us


    Canon Chasuble 11:54 AM  

    There is another totally incorrect clue in today's puzzle, and one which appears pretty regularly in the NYT Puzzle. The answer for 28 across is not eta, because Homer never wrote an eta for the letter H. In Homer's Greek, the sound of H is marked by the diacritical symbol ' (an apostrophe, that is a backwards-facing letter c) used over the vowel to be aspirated, or written before an upper-case vowel that is to be aspirated.

    Anonymous 11:57 AM  

    A: I have always said "Yeah, I'LL BET" (pronounced more "all bet"), for what it's worth. (Hint...nothing).

    2: I grew up with German grandparents. Popo was always a slang for one's rear end. Wonder if that's a thing or just in our household??

    III: Thank you to Neil and Jeff for my morning entertainment. When I saw Jeff's name i knew it would be good...and that Mike would trash it. (OK, overall he didn't, but that first screed until he found out there is actually something out there he didn't know about i.e. the GLITTER BOMBS on Youtube was pretty Mike-like)


    QuasiMojo 12:07 PM  

    @Joe DiPinto, thanks for clearing up my foggy memory re the Bread video. I'd forgotten they had more than one hit. :) Dina Merrill was very good in Butterfield 8. She was also in Caddyshack II, I believe. And for those who may not know it, she grew up in Mar-a-Lago. Her mother was Marjorie Merriweather Post. Her father was E.F. Hutton.

    Master Melvin 12:19 PM  

    That GLITTER BOMB guy has the neatest work bench Ive ever seen. I can't even see the surface of mine. Maybe I can ask him to come over and clean mine up?

    QuasiMojo II 12:29 PM  

    PS, @Joe, according to a French dictionary I checked "en" means "in" not "on."

    Anoa Bob 1:09 PM  

    Marine vessels and many navigational markers such as buoys have bells, whistles or horns to indicate their location in a FOG (25D). The reason is that sound travels easily through a FOG whereas vision can go from being severely limited to practically nonexistent and can't be relied on for navigation. So when I saw that the clue for FOG was "Something a lighthouse beacon cuts through", I thought "No way" and once again "I'LL BET none of the editorial staff are sailors."

    Another clue for 33D FRESH AIR---"One may open a window for it" seemed a bit convoluted---could be NPR's weekly ___ with Terry Gross. It's been broadcast from Philadelphia's WHYY since 1985. The latest offering is yesterday's "Michael Pollan Explains Caffeine Cravings (And Why You Don't Have To Quit)"

    Teedmn 1:25 PM  

    I had a couple of write-overs today which slowed me down a tad. I had 9D as SEEm AS, which made 22A's strike callers into Umpire (uh, where did the plural go?) And at 31D, I splatzed in "pros" for those in favor and was beginning to suspect a rebus after staring at p_ING (pressING?) for "It often introduces new wrinkles". I thought the constructors must have seen the results of my ironing!

    GLITTER BOMB - it doesn't take a lot of glitter. I have resolved to never again bring home wrapping paper with glitter on it, not even a little dab. It's been two months since my family's Christmas and my husband still comes up from the basement where we did our wrapping with a sparkly something on his face. I once bought paper with a lot of glitter on it - we wrapped one present and I then gingerly took the roll directly outside to the garbage can. And I warned the intended recipient of the impending glitter bomb, which I had delivered in a plastic bag. The stuff is insidious.

    I liked this puzzle. The theme was uplifting and the fill was FRESH. I smiled when I left the last letter of LINGUIN_ open for an E or I possible ending. Thanks, Neil Padrick Wilson and Jeff Chen.

    bertoray 1:27 PM  

    I too thought of the gaming aspect of crit, especially in video games. Crit legit.

    Donna 1:28 PM  

    In 1984, I completed a master's degree in English at a university in South Louisiana. We had to take a course which we referred to nicely as "Lit Crit." We rearranged some sounds in the phrase to create a term which referred to a certain sexual activity which I shall leave nameless here. Now, when I hear "Lit Crit," I think of our naughty term from grad school.

    bertoray 1:36 PM  

    In the benefit of the doubt department, I'll posit that in a laser show, the laser's colors are flying across a screen or surface.

    tea73 2:55 PM  

    I was so glad when my kids were out of elementary school and I could ban glitter forever.

    We use popo for rear end in this family (thanks to living in Germany for 5 years), but my younger son used to call the police the popo in high school. They were always questioning for doing things like sitting on park benches or curbs with his friends of color.

    I'm fine with Lit Crit. I think of it as a bit of a put down. I'm trying to remember whether we ever shortened the term "critique" when I was in architecture school.

    Had no problems with glitter bombs as I've only heard of them on front porches.

    NPW 2:58 PM  

    Howdy, all! Co-constructor NPW here.

    Disappointed that Rex had NOTHING positive to say about this puzzle, but I can’t say I’m surprised. As a constructor, I try to take criticism wherever I can. But it’s just important to know what works as much as what doesn’t! I might advise trying to write more balanced reviews, eh? Or else change the blog name to “Rex complains about what is meant to be a pleasant distraction for several paragraphs.” But, onwards and upwards.

    My original intention for GLITTER BOMB was as a form of political protest, but decoy packages for porch pirates is certainly also a thing. I don’t mind the clue change.

    As far as CRIT, I actually proposed the clue “Roll a Nat-20 in D&D.” We also let Shortz and crew know that the area could easily become CHIT/CHATS/CAT. But, once we let go of a puzzle into the world, there’s not much we can do about where it ends up. I do think LIT CRIT is nevertheless “a thing,” though, contrary to Rex’s grumblings.

    I won’t speak for Jeff, but I wasn’t thrilled with the northwest corner (ARREAR and LEERAT). That said, it was the smoothest fill we could muster given Jeff’s seed entry of IT’S A BIG IF. We had a back-and-forth about ARREAR in particular (as IN ARREARS is generally what comes to mind), but it had dictionary support and is it also easy enough to figure out (read: it is solvable), so we opted to keep it.

    “THAT’S A BIG IF” still feels a twinge off, but I did not have strong objections to it then, and I do not have strong objections to it now. If I were proposing a harebrained “if” scenario, then I would surely qualify it with IT’S as opposed to THAT’S. I think THAT’S is more appropriate if you’re commenting on somebody else’s idea.

    Re: OATEN. Uhhh… sure, not the best entry? But the word itself is gettable even if you’ve never heard of it. Do you know what an OAT is? Then you can probably suss out what it means for something to be OATEN. The NW/SE corners are fairly wide-open for a Tuesday (white space in 5x6 pattern isn’t a simple task, especially with the themer letters constraining you), so we had to make some tradeoffs. We ultimately leaned into solvability, which seems to have been successful. I would be fine calling it "crossword glue," but I think it's hardly offensive glue or glue that only a seasoned crossword veteran could figure out. So, it's fine.

    As far as the themers, I actually think we have a near-ideal set. We intentionally tried to pick varied examples with different mental imagery for how colors might be “flying around through the air.” GLITTER BOMB and FIREWORKS, for example, we felt had too similar a visual pattern.

    I wish y'all a bright, colorful day! :)

    Geezer 3:19 PM  

    Today's pedant award goes to..............@Canon Chasuble 11:54.

    Rastaman Vibration 3:22 PM  

    Greetings @NPW - it’s always nice when a constructor stops by to provide a different perspective on things. Don’t let Rex’s whining bother you at all - if you ever try to squeeze the word CURMUDGEON into one of your puzzles, you could clue it as “Rex Parker, for example”.

    I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on the clue for DEBIT (which is not technically correct). The word appears frequently enough in puzzles that one would think that constructors would be aware and able to avoid that pitfall. Did you just misfire on that one, or did the editors change it up on you?

    Perry 3:50 PM  

    I heard a lot of references to "LIT CRIT" when I was in college, but I was a chemistry major, so what do I know. If crossword constructors really want to include 'CRIT' as an answer, perhaps they should borrow into the world of bike racing. A road race on a short circuit is called a criterium, 'crit' for short.

    Unknown 4:06 PM  

    Big ditto.

    kitshef 4:18 PM  

    @NPW - I don't know if you are a regular Rex reader, but for him, "Ultimately, this one is wobbly, but it holds up" is pretty high praise.

    Unknown 4:20 PM  

    Thank you. It was an enjoyable puzzle. I just thought that paintball is more of a game than a sport? But it was easy to suss out. A fun Tuesday.

    Unknown 4:47 PM  

    I'll say that I think this was an especially enjoyable fill for a tuesday. We don't often get puzzles that avoid ALL silly crossword-ese like Oaten, but I don't really expect beauty and perfection in a Tuesday. Compared to how rough yesterday's puzzle was, I really enjoyed this one. Plus, any puzzle that invokes JOHNMUIR is a win in my book!

    Unknown 4:51 PM  

    @NPW I really enjoyed this one. IMFREE/ABSENT was really brilliant, along with IRAISE/ILLBET. Really enjoyable stuff!

    Z 5:17 PM  

    @NPW - Not that I would read Rex if I had a puzzle published, but, “ the theme is actually very inventive,” “The long Downs give the grid much needed pizzazz,” and “I like what that answer was trying to do,” are all positive. The problem is that negative comments get full explications while the compliments are practically toss-offs. Also, at least two of Rex’s plaints are actually directed at Shortz, not you (although that may not be obvious if you don’t read Rex daily).

    @Canon Chasuble - In the clue the initial symbol in “Homer’s” and the symbol “H” are meant to be understood as different letters. Imagine instead that the clue read “Homer’s Φ.” The answer would then be “phi.” This misdirection is actually available for several other Greek letters, but I only recall seeing it used for ETA. Again, just explaining, not defending, the clue. I liked it the first time I saw it, but now this letter from a different alphabet that looks like a letter in the English alphabet misdirection needs to be set aside for a few years.

    Interesting BIDEN takes. There’s no real way of knowing, but I think the overall response to him is eerily similar to Jeb, just with the parties reversed.

    jae 5:23 PM  

    @NPW - To @Kitshef’s quote I would also add...

    “The long Downs give the grid much needed pizzazz.”

    Not exactly high praise but not bad for Rex.

    Doc John 5:36 PM  

    CRIT is also frequently used by docs. It's a shortening of hematocrit, a very common and useful part of a Complete Blood Count test.

    Anonymous 6:20 PM  

    Wow!!!!! Not only did you co-construct a very fine puzzle, you explained all the bits ubder discussion with grace.
    Not sure which of those two things is more impressive.
    Anyway, color me impressed.

    Malsdemare 7:09 PM  

    @NPW Thanks for stopping by. I really liked the puzzle, not bothered at all by LIT CRIT or THATS A BIG IF. I'm not much of a nitpicker when it comes to puzzles. They are clues, not precise definitions or synonyms; wobbliness is okay with me. And the theme was a needed brightener in these grim days, metaphorically and meteorologically. Ignore Rex.

    pabloinnh 7:09 PM  


    I do crosswords for enjoyment, and I enjoyed yours. If there's some crosswordese that's necessary glue, I count that as part of doing crosswords. I've been doing these things for (coughs) years and even the very best ones seem to have a clunker here and there. So what? The good puzzles are always more memorable for the fun, and today's is a good example of that.

    Also, it's good to remember that for some folks, being unhappy is what makes them happy.

    Thanks again for a fun Tuesday, and stop by any time.

    Jason 7:12 PM  

    Rex: "I've been in universities, and English departments specifically, for my whole adult life."

    Well that certainly explains the hyper-"woke" liberal tirades and virulent intolerance for the inclusion of anything conservative in a crossword.

    albatross shell 9:41 PM  

    @anoymous 934am asks who is LEE RAT?
    Known also as "the dook", he was the the least famous, but eponymous member of a group with with Sammy, Dean, and Frank.

    Jelly 10:07 PM  

    @ Rastaman Vibration, re: DEBIT, our original clue was "Entry of interest for an auditor." I'm no CPA, so I won't speak to whether the changed cluing is technically accurate or not.


    And to be fair, I suppose Rex did manage to slip in a few semi-positive comments in his review. Though the overall vibe is negative. While I am not a frequent reader here (in large part because of the negativity), I do think Rex has valid opinions about construction to offer. So I will continue using the website as a resource (when I see puzzles or grids where some additional insight might be nice), but with a grain of salt.

    xyz 11:19 AM  

    Co-constructor follow-up comments enhance the theory that Will can make any puzzle worse

    toddh 12:24 PM  

    Glad to hear the constructors tried the suggestion I wrote above:) it’s too bad that the editor disagreed

    Anonymous 12:09 PM  

    I’ve seen the YT package thief/glitter bomb videos and barely got that one. There are plenty of other clues that could’ve been used there.

    spacecraft 11:49 AM  

    Nice Tuesday offering, with a nod to the LGBTQ community. Theme is solid; as to the clue for 46a, I didn't know there was such a thing anyway, so cluing it that way made no difference to me. I got it on crosses. While I agree that OATEN is not the best (Is a used wood container full of grain an OLD OAKEN OATEN BUCKET??) and had to trip through a couple of AP's (LEERAT, SEENAS), the fill was comparatively clean.

    Add to that a first-class DOD in Lucy LIU, and the AYES have it. Birdie.

    leftcoaster 2:43 PM  

    Fun, clever, well-made, medium-challenging Tuesday puzzle.

    Nice surprise was the BIDEN/VPS combination after some on-and-off staring at the "#2 for #44" clue. [And in syndie time he has definitely come into his own during the last couple of weeks.] Also glad to get spelling of RIYADH with crosses.

    An especially bright theme and revealer created by Neil and Jeff. [Provides a momentary break from reaction to the current crisis.]

    rainforest 3:01 PM  

    A fine entry in the occasionally troubled Tuesday slot, and I did not come to GRIEF, although I had a write-over of SEEmed because I didn't read the clue carefully. I liked the theme unsure as I was about 46A (must look up the YouTube), and thought the fill had no problems.

    Note @rondo: the four corners spell out FRAT, RAFT,or FART.

    Diana, LIW 3:06 PM  

    Took me a little rest time, then - success.

    Hey @Spacey - I'd like to watch an Oater about the Old Oaken Oaten Bucket, starring Annie Oakley of course.

    Happy St Pat's day. Don't go to a parade.

    Diana, the stay-at-home Lady in Waiting for Crosswords

    Burma Shave 4:13 PM  


    I'LLBET those FRATS' APOSTLES on Greek ROW
    have an ALIBI to LEER
    and INSULT girls as IF IT'SABIG SHOW,
    when IT'S only SEENAS ARREAR.


    rondo 4:20 PM  

    @rainy - you beat me to the 4 corners, but you are oh so correct.

    That movie could also star Jack Oakey and Warren Oates, theme sung by John Oates.

    This working from home isn't all bad, but I miss my dual monitors, especially the 40 incher.

    Didn't have to EDIT anything with a write-over. Decent Tues-puz.

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